on the organization of the debate “Election campaign in first and second rounds: affinities, differences, effects”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 11 november 2020, Debate No.09 brought together: expert in political sciences Aurelian Lavric, psychologist Zinaida Gribincea and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.
The candidates in elections use different instruments to attract more voters on their side. For their part, the given instruments sufficiently convincingly point to the objectives pursued by the two candidates and their capacities to achieve them. The election campaigns of the two candidates for President of the Republic of Moldova were analyzed by the experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Election campaign in first and second rounds: affinities, differences, effects”.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, explained that an election campaign is a set of activities staged by the candidates for elective posts. The electoral struggle is aimed at securing maximum voter support. The election campaigns involve support groups, public organizations, the mass media. The main elements of a campaign are the meetings, electoral protests, printing of brochures, leaflets, etc. The social networking sites and the so-called “political strategists”, who help the candidates realize all the aspects with an impact on the perception of voters, also started to be employed in election campaigns. The difference between the first and second rounds of voting is that the electors in the first round are urged to vote the preferred candidate, while in the runoff they are most of the times advised to give a compromise vote or “a vote for the lesser evil”.
According to the expert, in the current election campaign they resort to the exploitation of the irrationality and fears. Igor Dodon speaks in the name of Maia Sandu, namely what she would aim to do, so as to scare the people. But the reason is absent in all those actions that Maia Sandu allegedly intends to take. For example, Maia Sandu is accused of closing and of intending to close schools, but the fact that the national development strategy that envisions the optimization of schools was worked out by Igor Dodon’s party mate Zinaida Grechanyi, when she served as Prime Minister, while Igor Dodon served as Deputy Prime Minister, is omitted. “Namely they, the Socialists, justified the necessity of optimizing the schools and hospitals. Regrettably, the opponent doesn’t say anything about this event if the strategy was adopted by Parliament by law. On the other hand, candidate Maia Sandu is rather absent from the campaign prior to the runoff and this has an impact on the citizens,” stated Igor Boțan.
According to psychologist Zinaida Gribincea, university professor, the election campaigns are staged for all the people, but the main stake is always the segment of voters who are classed as “undecided voters” or those categories of persons who haven’t yet shaped their political options. “Those who already have views about the leader they want to elect usually do not easily change their political beliefs. These groups of people are practically permanently stable. The undecided people represent the voters who do not have the training needed to decide individually, for themselves. Namely they are the preferred stake of election campaigns,” she stated.
The psychologist noted that as a rule, the success in any election campaign depends on the standard formula used by the aspirants for elective posts. “Any candidate will try to appear as well as possible before the voters so as to attract the people who know that they must vote, know that they have the right to vote, but probably didn’t realize how important their votes are for a particular candidate,” she stated.
According to expert in political sciences Aurelian Lavric, the hypothesis that the election campaign is intended for the undecided voters is partially true. “The candidates address first of all their voters as these voters can become disappointed meanwhile and can refuse to vote. These people should be told what the candidate promised earlier, if this ran, what this did so that they remain faithful. Then the election campaign is intended for those who didn’t vote a particular candidate, trying to persuade them. The undecided voters are also an important category,” stated Aurelian Lavric.
According to him, the meetings with voters are an important component of the campaign: “Now, owing to the technological progress, the candidates address the voters also through the virtual word, using information technology. But the meetings are efficient because you can maintain communication with the voters and namely this context, of the proliferation of information technology, makes the face-to-face meetings important.”
Aurelian Lavric noted that in the West, they consider that the most efficient campaign is when you go from home to home and give the people flyers and answer questions if the people have some. “This is the ideal campaign. The meetings in public places that are now not the best solution owing to the pandemic, eventually open-air meetings, are efficient because they enable to communicate directly with a group of people. The physical presence, the way in which the candidate or the representative of the candidate manages to build confidence in them are actually decisive. It is already evident that the people’s vote has been emotional rather than reasonable, depending on how the candidates present themselves, including at face-to-face meetings,” he stated.
The Agency published 4 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 11.11.20, „Election campaign in first and second rounds: affinities, differences, effects. IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/election-campaign-in-first-and-second-rounds-affinities-differences-effects-8004_1077551.html ; „Aurelian Lavric: In society in which people respect each other, candidates would refrain from denigrating - https://www.ipn.md/en/aurelian-lavric-in-society-in-which-people-respect-each-other-8004_1077554.html ; „Igor Boțan: Lack of debates is a big disadvantage for candidates” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-lack-of-debates-is-a-big-disadvantage-for-8004_1077557.html ; „Zinaida Gribincea: In election campaign, both of candidates bank on feelings rather than on reason” - https://www.ipn.md/en/zinaida-gribincea-in-election-campaign-both-of-candidates-bank-on-8004_1077562.html.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN